Sunday, December 3, 2023

Rising stress

In recent years we are witnessing many cases of young people dying of sudden heart attack. There have been many sections of the society getting alarmed about this trend. This scenario is believed by some to be due to psychological – heart attacks occur due to chronic stress, worry and anxiety, and biological – sedentary life style, food adulteration, increased intake of junk foods and restaurant foods, smoking and drug abuse increases cholesterol, trigliceriods, cause narrowing of blood vessels and arteries which put pressure on heart and combined with stress they make a person vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes. But whatever the reasons – be they biological or psychological – we are losing precious human live which is extremely stressful, and we all need to take preventive measures to stay healthy and fit. Doctors, particularly those related to stress disorders, have been talking about this problem on various public platforms. As a society we should join heads to find out the reasons, and then start approaching the problem with our eyes wide open. We can no longer turn our gaze away, as this problem is seriously hurting our social fabric. We are losing young lives, and consequently families are getting devastated. Some of the reasons that are being associated with this grave trend are well known and if a concerted effort is made by the government and the civil society, we can expect to save many lives. We are aware that heart attacks or Myocardial Infarction (MI) is a common medical condition occurring due to cessation of blood flow to the heart usually because of the accumulation of fat and cholesterol in blood vessels resulting in chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, heart burn, cold sweats, dizziness and fatigue, generally varying from patient to patient. But, beyond this physiological condition of fat and cholesterol build-up the growing stress levels in present day social scenario is also becoming a major threat to these heart maladies. According to doctors, persistent stress due to various personal or professional issues in a person can have strong repercussions on the heart health and very often people underrate it. Stress ranges from acute to chronic levels like family illness, ongoing life struggles, unemployment, divorces, death of a loved one, etc. It’s said the lifespan of an individual can decrease by three to five years and the aging by ten to 15 years due to chronic stress. Usually when a person goes through stacks of stressful situations he/she is very prone to develop severe heart diseases or hypertension like issues. As per doctors, the linkage between stress and our heart sometimes manifests into a grave medical condition known as Broken Heart Syndrome resulting in dysfunctioning of the muscles of heart as such awful conditions give rise to release of stress hormones (catecholamine) that in turn trigger the cardiac muscles to contract vigorously rather in a normal steady manner. Different people show different responses to stress depending upon the level of coping or defense mechanisms a person uses. Some are unconcerned and relaxed while others may show intense emotional or physiological reactions as well but a person can try to manage the effect of stress on his body. According to doctors, exercise ameliorates the heart well-being and keeps a check on body weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. It also lessens the physical responses of body to stress by producing Endorphins, the chemicals in brain acting as painkillers and enhancing the ability to sleep and bring down stress levels. A proper balanced diet can level the mood. Keeping engaged with the things one love to do and developing a strong support system like good family relations, a trustworthy friend circle, someone one can talk or share problems, also helps, says doctors. Seeking medical help for constant anxiety or depression is also important to minimize the chances of sudden cardiac death. Indeed there are more ways for reducing anxiety and pressure levels which people go through on everyday basis. We just need to monitor our health consistently and cope with the increasing stress levels on our body.